|Review: Ihsahn - angL|
Label: Candlelight Records
Year released: 2008
Review online: May 27, 2008
Reviewed by: Lars Christiansen
Love him or hate him, you can't deny the former Emperor frontman's tireless mission to take metal to new levels of baroque genius, with a large helping of Nietzchean philosophy. Of course, at times it borders into levels of big-headed pomposity, but his work has never failed to impress me (well, his metal work, we won't go into Peccatum).
Speaking on a strictly musical level, if you are the type of metal head who has hated everything he's done post Anthems... - you're more than likely not going to find anything of interest here either. Although angL is of a less experimental nature than his previous solo effort The Adversary, it's still chock full of complex, progressive extreme riffage. Coupled with Ihsahn's trademark volcanic hiss and underpinned by the rhythm section of Lars T Norberg and Asgeir Mickelson, the riffs take precedence for the most part, and their true excellence take multiple plays to get the full effect. Of course, there are still the epic synthesizer lead passages of Emperor throughout most of the album (most notably on "Malediction", a track that could easily have been dusted off as a long lost Emperor B-side), albeit with a slightly less inhibited Ihsahn behind the steering wheel. The third track will also undoubtedly get a lot of tongues wagging amongst many for having the vocal abilities of Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt — and to be fair it works fairly well, even with slightly predictable harsh vocal trade off during the chorus section.
As previously mentioned, the lyrical base is strictly in the 'thinking man's Satanism' ball park, continuing the theme of 'The Adversary' with the main antagonist as the dark one himself (the title angL, pronounced 'Angel', but with a capital 'L', possibly pointing towards one of his many names - Lucifer). Ihsahn has always had an interest for solitary characters in his lyrics (Icarus and Prometheus both jump to mind from his Emperor days), so concentrating his lyrics around the ultimate figure of darkness for his solo career is no massive surprise.
In summary, this is a lot better than The Adversary. If you don't mind Ihsahn's more progressive noodlings, you're certain to take a liking to this album too. Well worth a look.
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